Photo credits: Jamie Eisenhart Photo credits: Jamie Eisenhart

You know how I know it’s almost fall?  Every coffee shop and bar in Seattle has begun gearing up on their pumpkin-inspired beverages.  Nothing says autumn has arrived like a spiced pumpkin latte to kick off each morning, and a pumpkin ale to end each night.  I won’t pretend I’m above this annual gimmick – I eagerly await it!  Only fitting that on a trip to Bangladesh earlier this month, my friend Nermeen introduced me to a new baby food that offers a generous Pumpkin 101 to – well, our little pumpkins.

Nermeen, a Bangladesh native, is a fun and generous mother gracefully balancing her career in public policy while raising three adorable children in Dhaka (including a newborn, congrats Nermeen!).  Over the years she’s learned a ton about introducing foods to babies while incorporating Bengali cultural traditions.  Much of babies’ first foods in her family begin with cooking rice down to a very soft porridge, and slowly introducing spices, meats, and produce through this vehicle.  Over time, you can adjust the consistency and level of ingredients as baby’s palate and chompers develop.  Genius!

As Nermeen described one version of this starter porridge with pumpkin, cardamom and cinnamon, my mouth began to water.  And not only is “pumpkin + spice + anything” delicious, it’s power-packed with iron, fiber, Vitamins A and C, potassium and beta carotene.  Combined with high-fiber, vitamin-rich brown basmati rice, these are all great things for baby’s development, digestion and immune system.

And for all you busy parents – organic, canned pumpkin is an abundant and beautiful item stocked at your local grocer.  But feel free to use raw cuts straight from the gourd and cooked until soft for extra bragging rights.

Additional serving options:

  • Add organic applesauce or fruit puree to sweeten
  • Mix in pureed or ground cooked chicken or turkey and kale for a full dinner

Pumpkin Basmati Rice

Recipe inspired by Nermeen Shams in Dhaka, Bangladesh

1 tsp organic coconut oil or organic vegetable oil
1 cup organic brown basmati rice
4 cups water
3 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp fresh peeled, grated organic ginger
1/2 cup canned organic pumpkin (containing no additional ingredients) or fresh pumpkin, cooked until softened
1/4 organic cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp organic cinnamon

Sautee rice in oil for 1-2 mins on medium-high heat until oil is absorbed. Add 4 cups water to the rice.  Toss in cardamom pods, ginger, and cinnamon, and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary.

Once the rice is cooked to an ideal consistency, remove cardamom pods and any large pieces of ginger.  Over low heat, stir in pumpkin.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before serving.

For younger babies: Puree mixture, or cook with additional water and for a longer duration, until the mixture reaches more of a porridge consistency

Refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 months.